I am not a web designer, I no longer work in tech, and though I do have some claim to knowledge about content/information design, this is an unoriginal idea: websites should be simple.
So, Danny, why this, why now?
Well, I’m doing an audit on the site for [REDACTED] and aside from the usual issues (think non-responsive elements, links that go nowhere, sliders that slide too fast, certain things just being ugly, etc.), the thing I think that’s given me the most trouble is the site organization itself: even aside from the messy main nav, the content isn’t uniform and it’s hard to find things. You have to do a lot of clicking. Clicking is annoying.
But, like many sites, this site has to do a lot of things, and has served a lot of different purposes since the last time it was reorganized: there’s stuff for stuff that the business just doesn’t really do anymore. This, naturally, has caused a lot of bloat. Things are hard to find. The code backing it up is spaghetti string. WordPress is always out of date, no matter who you are. There have been a lot of different chefs in the kitchen, all of whom spoke different languages and had different ways of cooking chicken.
And to be real, a lot of website stuff, especially for non-web businesses (though “every business is an Internet business” nowadays, I guess), is mostly “if it ain’t broke.” It’s not a huge priority. It’s relatively expensive. And there isn’t anything wrong per se, about having two links to the same thing on a page, at least so far as “Does it work?” is concerned. It does work. It’s just a bad user experience.
This website I’ve been looking at isn’t bad. It’s just less good than it (c/s)hould be. It’s a little complicated. They’re trying to do a lot of different things with it. And they try to make it easy to get to things, but in a way that makes it a little confusing organizationally.
Simple is better. Things are easier to find. It looks nicer. There’s less on the page to think about and distract users from whatever it is you’re trying to sell them (like this site: the focus is completely on the bullshit). Especially now that most “information” – you know, general stuff – is much easier to find via Google anyway, sites should really just focus on what’s in their wheelhouse. Start with the essential content, and build out from that.
Oh, and use social media. Like, at all. But that’s a different thing.
I mean, sure, this site is perhaps too simple, but that’s sort of the point: it doesn’t need to do a lot. And so it doesn’t. And shouldn’t. And I’m far too lazy to make it anything other than what it is.
If it’s a content thing, it should be easy to get to the content. If it’s an online marketplace thing, just use Shopify already. If it’s a business site, meant to drive business to a physical place, keep it short and simple, and talk only about the stuff that really differentiates the business. And always, always make things easy to find. Via a simple nav.
And, please, dark text on light backgrounds. My eyes are strained as it is.